Medical malpractice can take many forms, from the doctor who failed to read an x-ray correctly, which led to an unnecessary and completely preventable, worsening of the medical condition, to a pharmacist who incorrectly filled a prescription for an infant with the adult formulation of the drug. Regardless of the type of malpractice, the resulting harm may be long lasting or permanent, requiring extensive ongoing therapy or rehabilitation. In many situations, the person who was harmed never can maintain a job, or perform the duties of a previous career. Compensation is necessary to address the many wrongs that were done to a victim of this type of negligence. However, if the person who was injured does not act quickly enough, the chance to hold the wrongdoer accountable may slip away forever.
The Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Maine
Each state has some type of time restriction that limits the period in which a lawsuit may be filed. In Maine, there is a specific statute that applies to medical malpractice cases. The general rule is that a person has three (3) years in which to file a lawsuit against a doctor or other healthcare provider. See Maine Revised Statutes, Title 24, Section 2902. The clock begins to run on the date on which the medical malpractice occurred, regardless of whether or not the person realized that he had suffered harm (with limited exception, discussed below). Once that three-year period has lapsed, there are no further options for pursuing a court case against the wrongdoers, no matter how terrible the error or how devastating the harm.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in Maine
There are several exceptions that apply to cases where a person was injured because of the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional in the State of Maine. If the person was harmed as the result of a foreign object that was left inside the patient after surgery or another type of invasive medical procedure, then the clock does not begin to run until the person discovers the source of the injury, or should have discovered it upon the exercise of reasonable diligence. Under these circumstances, a person has three years from the time of the discovery to bring a legal action against the doctor or other healthcare provider.
When the victim of the negligence was a minor child, there also are different rules that apply. If a person was under the age of 18 years when he was injured as a result of medical malpractice, he has until the age of 21 years or six years from the date of the negligent act or omission to file a lawsuit, whichever is the shorter period. If the minor suffered harm because a healthcare provider left a foreign object in his body, then he has six years from the date of discovery of the injury or until his 21st birthday, whichever happens first, to commence a legal action.
In certain cases where the doctor or other medical professional who committed the negligent act takes steps to conceal the source of the harm or engages in other fraudulent actions to prevent or hinder the victim from discovering the malpractice, then the court has some discretion to extend the statute of limitations. This is a very rare situation. There also may be an extension of the time limit if the defendant left the state after the negligent act or if the plaintiff was mentally incompetent.
Stern Law, PLLC Advocates for Maine Medical Malpractice Victims
Medical malpractice is far more common than most people think, but many victims suffer little harm. When the error leads to a severe injury that alters the course of a person’s life, it is crucial to get legal help as soon as possible in order to preserve the victim’s right to recover monetary damages, which are necessary to pay ongoing medical bills, make up for lost wages, obtain accommodations to the home and family vehicle, and compensate for pain and suffering. At Stern Law, PLLC, our attorney understands how much malpractice costs a victim and his or her family. We have spent more than 30 years fighting to ensure that these individuals get every benefit to which they are entitled to lead the fullest life possible. One of the best things that those who have suffered harm can do is contact us quickly so that we can develop an effective legal strategy and uncover critical evidence.
In addition to advocating for those who have suffered as the result of medical malpractice, we also provide answers and resources for those who have been harmed, or believe they may have been injured, as the result of a medical professional’s negligence. We have knowledgeable representatives available to respond to questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of whether or not you are a client. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.